Homemade Disinfecting Spray

January 25, 2016

Disinfectant Spray Ingredients - Food in Jars

I have never been someone who gets overly concerned about living a meticulously clean life. For all my adult years, I’ve relied on regular applications of soap, hot water, vinegar, fresh air, and a powerful vacuum for most home cleaning endeavors. But then I came down with a cold that would not end and found myself looking for new ways to kill the cold germs in the middle of winter (if it had been just a bit warmer, I would have opened up all the windows for half a day).

Half Vodka - Food in Jars

It was this search that led me to make up a bottle of vodka-based disinfecting spray. The idea of using vodka as a powerful germ killer was not new to me. When my sister was in labor with her second baby, my mom scrubbed the tub where Raina would deliver with half a bottle of high-priced vodka (it had been a gift to my brother-in-law and in those frenzied pre-birth moments, there was a strong “use what we have” vibe).

Half Water - Food in Jars

My goal was to concoct a product that could be sprayed across bedding and the couch where I spent much of the worst of the cold, to refresh and help disinfect a bit until we could drag quilts, comforters, and zip-off covers to an industrial washing machine. I did a bit of research, dug out a couple bottles of essential oils, and sent Scott out for the cheapest vodka the local state store had on offer.

Essential Oils - Food in Jars

I combined equal parts vodka and water in a spray bottle (I happened to have an empty glass one from ePantry, but anything you have on hand will do) and added about twenty drops of both rosemary and grapefruit essential oils (tea tree, lavender, or lemon would also be good options).

Shake and Spray - Food in Jars

To use, just give the bottle a good shake and spray wherever necessary. The boozy smell is faint and fades quickly, and all you’re left with is a fresh home and a bit of grapefruit and rosemary. Very few surfaces in our apartment have gone unsprayed at this point, and while I don’t know if it actually helped, I feel like it did something. And sometimes, isn’t that enough?

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13 thoughts on "Homemade Disinfecting Spray"

  • as a former professional ballet dancer, I can tell you that vodka+water was the go-to spray in the costume department to get the stink out of costumes between cleanings! I never saw a costume shop without it

    1. I was going to say the same thing! We used this mix with lavender in college when I wardrobed theater shows. Homemade febreze! We always said the cheaper the vodka, the better.

  • It’s a great way to leave a fresh scent, but it won’t disinfect anything. For essential oils to disinfect, they have to be used at super high undiluted concentrations, and have to stay in contact with the surface. The lab tests that show antibacterial properties are using concentrations that would cause damage to most surfaces in the home, including your skin.

    Same goes for alcohol – vodka isn’t really strong enough, and again, you’d need to saturate the area, with a much higher proof than vodka.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But at least things smell nice.

    (Alcohol helps with odours on surfaces and in fabrics by dissolving some of the compounds that cause odour, and then “carrying them away” as it evaporates, more than by killing bacteria)

  • I have almost a full bottle of Vodka (which I do not drink) and have been finding ways to get rid of it. (I had to buy a bottle to euthanize a sick fish and only needed a few tsps.)

    My sister has me using it for pastry dough and painting food color on icing cookies.

    I’m experimenting with using it in my watercolor class.

    Now I have another way to use up a nice big chunk of it. What a great idea. I must have an empty spray bottle around here somewhere.

    1. put some vanilla beans in your vodka, once a week shake the bottle, keep the bottle in a closet and in 4 to 6 months you will have the most wonderful vanilla extract around!

  • Please come to Albany NY or Valley. Variety in Hudson again.. Albany has lots of places for demos or book signings: Different Drummers Kitchen, The Book House, come to mind. Nearby Troy ( they have an arts event last Friday of every month) has lots of small food venues and an independent Bookstore as well, plus the Arts Center of the Capital Region with a small kitchen. In Troy Saturday morning is also their Farmer’s market–THE place to be in the area in good weather.

  • My husband makes his own spirits and the first bit of every run is mostly methanol and poisonous. So… we keep it in a labeled jar just for cleaning. Homemade spirits are much higher proof than what you can purchase in the store, i can practically use the stuff as nail polish remover.

  • I use a very similar concoction for household cleaning. I just add a bit of dish soap. Really just one or two drops. Any more and it becomes greasy.